It’s not too late, fellas! You still have time to “remember”!
But you had better hurry. You only have until Sunday to do something about it!
Valentine’s Day always brings out the best in people, doesn’t it? Yes, love is in the air! Even in the spirit of COVID and viruses and vaccinations and such.
Cards and flowers and chocolates and … well, no chocolate at our house – not with a weight-conscious, calorie-counting mate around. (And that’s not a bad thing!)
But this year I have noticed an almost over-abundance in email sales advertisements designed to take advantage of this heavy flowers holiday! It seems everyone is trying to cash in on the most card-sending, flower-buying, jewelry-giving holiday of the year! And all in the name of … (everybody sigh!)… love!
But what is love anyway? Our tendency is to look at love and think of it as a sort of goose-bump-raising, mushy, gushy, feeling that comes upon us when we think about, listen to, or look into the eyes of the one we “love!”
But wait, isn’t love also a big, fat ZERO? It is, if you’re playing tennis!
And don’t we also talk about “love” in the same breath when we talk about our cars, our gardens, our pets, and our favorite sports teams? I even heard someone just a month or so ago talk about loving his “Play Station 5!” (And he was an adult – not a kid!)
So what is love anyway?
In the first century, when Jesus was on this earth, He talked a lot about love, but perhaps nowhere was he more clear in his explanation of the true meaning of love than during the last night of His life here on earth.
He was meeting with the men who had given up everything in their lives to follow Him, to learn from Him, to simply be with Him. And He was talking with them about the legacy He would be leaving them.
He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Check out John 13:34-35).
Now I cannot read those words without wondering about them. What does He mean “love one another?” And why does He call this a “new” commandment?
I mean, after all, the command was given back in Leviticus 19. It was several hundred years old by the time Jesus uttered these words. What was so new about it?
In looking at these words, I believe we get a hint at what they mean from the second phrase there – where He says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In other words, Jesus is saying that if we want to get a true picture of what love is, we don’t take our cues from the culture around us, we take them from Him and follow His example – “as I have loved you.”
Well, how had He loved them? Over the long haul, He had done no less than deliver them from storms on the sea, as well as from angry mobs, upset because they couldn’t cast out demons. He fed these men along with a lot of other people when they were hungry and there wasn’t enough food to go around.
But most recently, He had picked up a simple bowl of ordinary water and a towel and a washcloth, and gone around the room, to each one of these twelve men, and one by one, washed their filthy, dirty feet! Now it is not enough to know that He washed their feet.
To really understand the love behind this, you must know that this job was not a job that just anyone would normally do. It was a job reserved for only the lowest, most menial of servants – the low man (or woman) on the totem pole of seniority! It was a dirty, smelly job, with little or no thanks involved, and no one, EVER volunteered for it!
At least, no one until this night in this upper room, when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords took up the task.
“As I have loved you” – a phrase that helps us understand both the definition of love and the newness of the command, for both of these aspects are bound in this short phrase.
Love, according to Jesus, is more than cards, candy, or flowers; it is self-sacrificial service. It is giving of yourself to the one you love, even when it hurts. It is humbling yourself to complete the difficult tasks, the ones that no one else will do. It is trying to be creative in seeing how you can serve the one you love.
Oh, and by the way, true love begins with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The kind of love that we’re talking about is impossible to carry through over the long haul without Him.
So today, I encourage you to get the cards and flowers and jewelry, maybe even the fancy dinner and the “date” away from the kids, but don’t forget to humbly serve the one you love.
Then no one will ever say you are a big fat ZERO!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.